Obituary: George Innes, 91

Air Commodore George Innes. Picture: comp
Air Commodore George Innes. Picture: comp
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Air Commodore George Innes CBE, who was born in Musselburgh, has died at the age of 91.

George Innes was born on November 26, 1923 and went to Crookston School.

In 1944, George joined the RAF and trained as a pilot at RAF Weeton and in South Africa, qualifying just as the war ended.

He then trained and qualified as a policeman with the Edinburgh City Police, working for some years in the office of the chief constable.

George then rejoined the RAF and, after being in charge of RAF Police Dog Training at Netheravon, he was commissioned into the Provost and Security Branch of the RAF.

He delivered a number of monumental achievements during his time in the RAF.

To broaden his experience in 1956, George was appointed security officer for Task Force Grapple – the highly secretive operation centred on Christmas Island in the Pacific. Operation Grapple was, in fact, the name given to the British nuclear tests of the hydrogen bomb carried out from 1956 to 1958.

He was appointed head of RAF counter-intelligence and was instrumental in uncovering a high-ranking Soviet spy in 1968.

In a most detailed operation, George discovered a serious breach in RAF security that led to the arrest and conviction of an RAF signals specialist, Chief Technician Douglas Britten. He was 36 and stationed at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire which was a secretive arm of the Government Communications Headquarters.

Throughout his career, George was involved in contentious and intricate matters; his diplomacy and tact often proved essential.

He was among the RAF security advisers who offered Lord Denning counsel during the 1963 Portland Spy Ring inquiry – a notorious case of Soviet spies operating in urban Ruislip and Portsmouth.

In 1976, George was appointed an aide-de-camp to the Queen and RAF Provost Marshal, the highest post within his specialist branch. It is an important role within the security service and oversees policing, counter-intelligence and specialist security support throughout the RAF. He was awarded the CBE when he retired two years later.

He continued his close association with the RAF and served as principal emergency planning officer (responsible for home defence and responding to natural disasters) for Strathclyde Regional Council, and later filled a similar post with the Greater London Council.

George remained a fervent Scot and attended rugby matches at Murrayfield until quite recently. He regularly played the bagpipes and was a keen golfer.

Although George died in Dorset, his funeral took place in the town of his birth – at St Michael’s Church at Inveresk. George married Betty, a former Waff, in 1947. She and their son and daughter survive him.